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From the collection of the 

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o Prelinger 

San Francisco, California 




_ 0H51 The giant nature library 

QH51 The giant nature library 





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To my wife 


my busiest little bee 

The publishers' thanks to Lucy W. Clausen, 
Ph.D. of The American Museum of Natural 
History, New York City, for her suggestions 
concerning the manuscript of this book, and 
to Ramona Javitz, of The Picture Collection, 
New York Public Library, for her great help 
with picture material. 

Printed in the United States of America 
by W. S. Konecky Associates 





Pictures by ^-^^m^ t^%W//' 



Almost any day in summer, you can find a bee buzzing 
around in a garden or field or orchard. If yOu stand still and 
don't strike at it, you will be able to look carefully and see what 
kind of bee it is. As a rule, bees only sting people who seem to 
be bothering them or interrupting their work. 

For bees are always working. Some kinds of bees work 
alone and live by themselves. Scientists call them "solitary" 
bees. Other kinds live in groups called "colonies," and they 
work together. 

^ ^ V li - . 





Many of the bees you are likely to see are honeybees, the 
kind that make the honey we eat. They live in colonies. 

The honeybees you most often see are beekeepers' honey- 
bees that live in special boxes called hives, which have been 
set out for them. But there are others that are wild honeybees, 
who live the year around in hollow trees or in old bams, or in 
any safe, dry hole they can find. The wild honeybee colonies 
in this country were started when bees that people owned 
flew away from their hives and built colonies in the woods. 

Some honeybees are brown or 
black and some have yellow bodies. 
But no matter what they look like, 
honeybees all live together in the 
same way. They all raise their young 
bees alike. They all make the honey 
that tastes so good on bread or pan- 
cakes. They all make the wax that we 
often use in candles or to polish furni- 

Of course, bees don't work for 
people on purpose. They make honey 
because it is their own food. They 
make wax to use in building their col- 
onies. We are lucky that they often 
make more honey and wax than they 
can use. They will have much more 
than they need if the beekeeper who 
owns them helps them in various 
ways. This book will tell not only 
about honeybees and their unusually 
interesting lives, but also about the 
things a beekeeper does to make their 

.,. > work easier. 

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There are many jobs to be done 
in a honeybee colony: keeping the 
hive clean, laying eggs, taking care of 
the young, storing away food, and 
other chores. This work is divided be- 
tween two different kinds of bees in 
each hive: the queen and the work- 
ers. The queen lays eggs. The work- 
ers do all the other tasks. 

The drones are a third kind of 
bee in each hive. They are fat and 
lazy and do no work at all. 

Once a bee has grown into a 
worker, a queen or a drone, it can 
never change. Each sort, even a lazy 
drone, is useful to a colony, which 
needs all three kinds in order to go on 
living. Later on in this book you will 
find out more about how each one 


Queen bee 

Worker bee 








But first, let's take a good look at a worker bee. It does 
very special work of many kinds. It collects nectar, a sweet 
liquid from flowers, and changes it into the honey that bees use 
for food. It gathers pollen, a fine powder found in flowers, and 
mixes it with nectar to make "bee bread," which is food for 
young bees. It helps build a storage place for all this food. 

Worker bees are good housekeepers. They are nurses for 
the baby bees, too. There are always many jobs around a hive. 
Worker bees have lots to do, and they couldn't possibly get all 
their work done without special tools to help them. But the 
only tools they have to work with are the ones that grow right 
on their own bodies. 

This is brood comb, where bee Bread is stored as 
food to be used by newly hatched bee larvas. 


A bee's body is divided into three parts. In front is the 
head. This has the eyes. Honeybees have good eyesight. They 
can recognize all colors but red, which they cant tell from 
black. And they seem to be able to recognize objects around 
their hives. They have a good sense of direction, so that they 
have no trouble in finding their own homes. 

On their heads, bees also have two short feelers, which are 
noses, too. Bees have a keen sense of smell. 

A worker bee's head has a mouth with strong jaws for 
chewing, and a long tongue with a spoonlike end. Around the 
tongue are parts somewhat like feelers. By using these and its 
tongue, a worker bee can make a tube to suck up nectar from 
flowers. A bee cannot cut the skins of fruit to suck the juices, 
but it can suck up juices from fruit already bruised and cut. 


The middle part of a bee's body has four thin delicate 
wings, two on each side. A bee can move its wings very fast- 
as much as four hundred times a second— and worker bees can 
fly very far, sometimes eight miles in one flight. 

Each honeybee has six legs— three pairs— on its middle 
part. Worker bees' legs have all sorts of little brushes and other 
tools to help them. 

The hind part of a bee's body is the largest, and has sev- 
eral of the worker bee's important tools. There is a honey 
sac or "honey stomach," which is a sort of extra stomach where 
the bee stores the nectar it has sucked up with its tongue. Also 
in this hind section are some glands for making wax. This wax 
comes out of little slots on the under side of a bee. 

On the back tip of a bee is a sting— a sharp point con- 
nected to poison glands. This is a bee's weapon for protecting 
its colony from enemies. 

A worker bee uses its various tools to help it with its many, 
many jobs. 


During the busy summer season, 
worker bees live for only about six 
weeks. They spend about the first 
three weeks of their lives as house 
bees, doing work inside the hives. 

When a honeybee that is work- 
ing in fields or gardens flies home to 
its hive, it lands on a kind of porch be- 
fore its front door, which is a crack 
that runs across one side at the bot- 
tom of the hive. 

At the door it has to pass guards. 
These are young bees that are really 
armed— they have their stings for 
weapons. They know by smell the 
bees that belong to their own hive, 
and they stand there at the entrance, 
ready to drive away any robber bees 
that may come from other colonies to 
steal honey. If the robbers don't fly off 
immediately, the guards sting them to 
death. The guards also watch out for 
mice and other invaders and sting 
them, too, if they try to sneak in. 



House bees, cleaning cells 


A bee lands on a kind of porch. 

Killing an invader 

Head of worker 
bee (enlarged) 

Head of drone 

'•1^\ Compound eyes 



Compound^^l^ f , 


Workers, drones and queens 
all have three small or simple 
eyes on the tops of their heads. 
These are also called ocelli. 



The drones are the mole 
Actual size bees of a colony. They are 
of worker large, noisy fellows, without 
bee any stings. 

Head of queen 
bee (enlarged) 

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The queen is very important to 
a bee colony. She doesn't lead 
a life of leisure. She is kept 
busy, laying eggs. 

Body of worker bee (enlarged) 
(Shown without hairs) 


■^4 ^ 




Front leg, showing 
antenna cleaner 


Hind wing 
Wing-locking device 


^ Wax glands are located 

beneath the eight scales 
that fit like shingles un- 
der the bee's abdomen. 


Near the doorway of the hive 
are other bees that stand and make a 
humming sound, but not because 
they are angry. They make the noise 
with their wings, which they are 
fanning very fast, to do the work of 
air conditioners. Some stand on one 
side of the entrance, facing in, and 
some stand on the other side, facing 
out. Their fast-fanning wings keep 
the air circulating. The moving air 
cools the hive in hot weather and 
keeps the honey from getting too soft 
and runny. It also helps dry some of 
the moisture out of the new honey 
that the bees are making. 


Other bees are at work cleaning 
up the hive. They crawl over the floor 
and carry out dirt or dead bees in 
their jaws. There isn't a great deal of 
dirt for them to clean up, because 
bees always take care of their toilet 
outside the hive. 

When the guards have killed a 
mouse inside the hive, the cleaners 
have been known to seal it up in wax 
and propolis, a kind of glue from 
plants, to keep their home neat and 
free of smell. 

A few bees do repair jobs around 
the hive. They use the propolis, which 
they gather from plants, to seal up 
any cracks in the outside walls where 
invaders might creep in or where the 
wind or rain could blow through. 


Taking a dead bee from the hive 

Worker bees, housecleaning 




Some of the worker bees are building little six-sided wax 
cells in the hive. They are making what we call honeycomb, 
which is placed in two up-and-down layers, built back to back. 

Bees use honeycomb for two different things. Some of the 
cells are cupboards for storing food. Others are little rooms for 
hatching and housing young bees until they are big enough to 
crawl around in the hive. 

Inside their bodies, worker bees have special glands that 
change some of the honey they eat into wax for building honey- 
comb. A bee can change about six pounds of honey into one 
pound of wax. 


when the Hqiiid wax comes out of the eight little open- 
ings on the under side of a bee's body and reaches the air, it 
hardens. These bits of hardened wax on a bee's abdomen look 
like fish scales, except that they are much smaller, of course. 
They are Hat and brittle, and if they were big enough you could 
see through them, almost as if they were glass. 

Each worker removes her own wax scales by prying them 
loose with the spurs on one or the other of her hind legs. Then 
while she stands on her middle legs, she passes the scales to her 
front legs, and her front legs pass them to her mouth. Now she 
chews the wax until it is soft enough to be pushed or pulled in- 
to shape for building a cell. 

When the wax is ready, the bee carries it in her jaws, or 
she may even tuck it under her chin, where she keeps it in 
place with her forefeet. She takes it to some cell that is being 
built. There another bee pinches off the wax with her jaws and 
pushes it into place on the cell wall. 

A worker bee, removing wax scales 


Many bees work together on one cell, but the cells are al- 
ways made exactly the same, in one or the other of two sizes, 
and they always have six sides. These sides fit together like 
pieces of a puzzle, so that there is no space wasted. Square cells 
would fit together just as closely, but honeybees' cells are never 

Scientists have discovered that the six-sided cells are 
stronger than square cells would be. 


This is a drone. 

Bees didn't figure that six-sided cells were best. Nor did 
they get together and think up all the other marvellous things 
they do. Bees— like other insects— can't think and plan ahead, 
the way human beings can. They don't really have knowledge. 
What seems like knowledge of how to make honey or six-sided 
cells is really "instinct "—a sense of how to do these things nat- 
urally, without ever being taught. Bees are born with all their 
skills. They don't have to learn the complicated jobs they do. 



Wild bees build all their own 
honeycomb, fitting it into the space 
where they live. But beekeepers have 
invented a way of making their bees 
build honeycomb in neat rows that 
can be lifted out and looked at now 
and then. 

Beekeepers have square wooden 
frames that they put into the hives, 
placing about ten in a row, with space 
between each frame for the bees to 
move around in. The frames have a 
wide piece at the top, from which 
they hang, and the bees build their 
comb cells sideways across each 
frame, starting from sheets of wax 
called "foundations." 

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Inner wall of hive 


Comb foundation 
The bees will build this foundptlon out to a full comb. 


The reason for foundations is this: It takes a lot of honey 
and a lot of time for bees to make all the wax for their honey- 
comb, so beekeepers help them and give them a head start in 

They buy ilat sheets of beeswax that have been stamped 
so that they are covered with little six-sided ridges, to show the 
start of cells. These are the sheets called foundations, and they 
are like the foundations of buildings. The beekeeper fits them 
into the wooden frames that he puts in the hive, and the bees 
build comb from them. 

When bees build comb from foundations, they look as if 
they were having a tug of war. One bee hangs onto a ridge in 
the wax. Another bee hangs onto the ridge next to it. Then one 
or more bees cling to each of these, and they all tug until the 
ridges have grown into walls on six sides. It is much quicker for 
bees to build this way from a foundation than to make the 
whole of each cell out of the wax that they grow in their bodies. 
So they have time to gather more nectar and make more honey. 



A beekeeper starts his hive with 
a ground floor, called a "brood cham- 
ber," and a second story. When the 
second story is nearly full of honey 
in frames, he takes off the top of his 
hive, adds a third story— another box 
full of frames— and the bees move in- 
to that. The beekeeper keeps building 
up his hive with more stories all sum- 
mer long, as the bees make more and 
more honey and need more and more 
space for storing it. The second story 
of a hive is called the "food chamber" 
and that is where the bees keep most 
of the honey they use for their own 
food. The stories above the food 
chamber are called "supers." 



All day long in warm sunny weather, some of the worker 
bees who are called "field bees" fly back and forth from the 
hive to the flowers where they suck up the sweet liquid called 
nectar. Sometimes they may travel four miles in their search 
for flowers. 

Occasionally a bee who has returned to the hive from a 
food-hunting trip stands and sways her body from side to side. 
This is called a honey dance, and it tells the other bees that she 
has found a big supply. Very soon they will leave the hive to 
find the honey-nectar that made the dancing bee so excited. 

Round dance 

Wagtail dance 

In the round dance, the bee dances in circles. This dance seems to be performed when 
the source of nectar is near the hive. 

tn the wagtail dance, the bee dances a half circle to one side, then runs straight back 
to the starting point and dances a half circle to the other side. This dance seems to be used 
when the nectar is quite far away. Some scientists think it may indicate the distance of the 
nectar from the hive, so that the other bees can find it easily. 

* If you watch bees closely in a garden you will see that they 
work around certain flowers but pass others by. That is be- 
cause the flowers are shaped differently. Some have their 
nectar where bees cannot get at it. Others, such as white clover 
and apple blossoms, are shaped so that a bee can sip the nectar 

Scientists have made experiments that prove a bee is 
guided to flowers by their color and scent. When she does her 
honey dance, the others probably smell the nectar she has 
found and brought back to the hive. They may use this scent 
as a clue to finding the same field or garden or orchard. 



As soon as the field bee has 
sucked up nectar through her tongue- 
tube, and it has gone into her honey 
sac, it begins to change. No one 
knows exactly what happens, but 
probably nectar is changed into 
honey by juices that come from 
glands inside the bee, just as saliva 
comes from glands in your mouth. 

When a bee has filled her honey 
sac with as much nectar as she can 
carry, she flies back to the hive. Al- 
though she may have been wander- 
ing for miles from flower to flower, 
she always flies home in a straight 
line. That is why a straight line is 
often called a "bee line." 


Back at the hive, a field bee may 
give part of her load of nectar to a 
house bee. She opens her jaws and 
squeezes a drop of nectar out over her 
tongue. The house bee stretches her 
tongue out full-length and sips the 


nectar from the tongue of the field 
bee. Bees are most likely to do this on 
hot bright days when many flowers 
are in bloom and a great deal of nec- 
tar is flowing. 

No matter which bee has the 
nectar, this is what happens next: 
The bee spends about twenty minutes 
squeezing the nectar in and out of her 
honey sac and rolling it around on her 
tongue. This takes some of the mois- 
ture out of the nectar. Probably some 
chemicals from the bee's glands are 
mixed with it, too, so that it is ready 
to ripen into honey. 


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Now the bee looks for a cell in the honeycomb where she 
can store her honey. She may find one in the comb that the 
workers have built on the ground floor of the hive. But she is 
more likely to take her honey to one of the upper stories. 

When a bee with a load of honey finds a cell that is empty, 
she crawls in. Then she forces the honey out of her honey sac 
and uses her tongue as a brush to paint the honey onto the top 
of the cell walls. If she finds a cell in which there is already 
honey she just adds another drop to it. 

So that a bee can crawl into a cell, her wings unhook 
where they were fastened together on each side for flying, and 
slide, one on top of the other, becoming very narrow. Without 
her hooking and unhooking apparatus, a bee could never crawl 
into a honeycomb cell to do her work. 


When the cell is full, the honey is still quite thin. More 
moisture has to be dried out of it to keep it from spoiling. This 
is the job of the air-conditioners, who stand at the hive en- 
trance, fanning with their wings to keep a little breeze circu- 
lating. During the busiest time, when many flowers are bloom- 
ing, bees are busy day and night. Field bees bring in the nectar 
as long as there is daylight, and house bees work even after 
dark, keeping the air moving through the hive. 


After the honey in a cell is thick enough, workers cover it 
with wax. Sealed up in the comb, honey will keep for a long 
time. And the longer it keeps, the better it tastes. 

Bees live on the honey they make. It is their food. But 
grown-up bees do not always wait for the honey to be fully 
ripened before they eat it. They sip the nectar or honey with 
their tongues, either from a cell or from the tongue of another 
bee. Usually a field bee takes a small meal this way before she 
starts on a trip to look for more nectar. 

ff ■■ M ""n'^ft- >^^• r. 




Besides nectar, bees also collect pollen and make it into 
another kind of food. Pollen comes from the flowers where the 
bees find nectar. It is a kind of dust inside the flowers which 
helps to grow seeds and fruit. 

A bee's body is thickly covered with short little hairs. 
Some pollen rubs off onto the hairs accidentally as the bee 
crawls down into the heart of a flower looking for nectar. But 
she also scrapes pollen off on purpose with her jaws and mixes 
it with nectar in her mouth. 


Then, while the bee is flying, all six of her legs go to work 
so fast you can hardly believe it. The front two gather pollen 
from her body with their brushes, and mix it with the moist 
pollen from her jaws. This moist ball of pollen is then taken by 
the pollen brushes on the middle legs. Then with the combs 
and brushes on her hind legs, the bee takes the pollen and 
packs it into her pollen baskets. Her right hind leg packs pollen 
into the left basket, and her left leg packs it into the right 
basket. In no time at all she has gathered two lumps of pollen 
that look much too big for her to carry. 


The pollen and nectar a bee collects for one load weigh 
almost as much as she does herself. After she reaches the hive 
with this big load, she climbs around on the comb, looking for 
a cell in which to store it. When she finds an empty cell she 
grasps its upper edge with her front two legs. Her other four 
legs are inside the cell and her abdomen hangs outside. Now 
her middle pair of legs force the pollen out of the baskets on 
her hind legs. 

The field bee who has collected the pollen then usually 
goes off and lets a house bee finish packing the pollen into the 
cell. House bees do not take pollen from field bees as they take 
nectar, but after the pollen is in a cell they crawl in head-first 
and mash it down. They also add honey and perhaps some 
juices from their mouths to preserve the pollen. Now they have 
what is called "bee bread." House bees seal the cell with wax 
and leave it until the bee bread is needed as food for baby bees. 
Grown bees never eat bee bread. 

Cross section of a cell, showing bee bread 
being mashed down by a house bee 


All of the bees who take care of 
the hive and bring in food are female 
bees, and they are all worker bees. 

Besides them, one special female 
bee in every hive is the queen. Her 
body is beautiful and shiny, and she 
is much bigger and longer than the 
workers. She is the mother of all the 
bees, and she does all the egg-laying. 
That is her only job. 

The queen is the most important 
bee in the hive. She sometimes lays as 
many as a million eggs altogether. A 
strong colony has between fifty and 
eighty thousand bees in it at honey- 
making time. So the queen has to lay 
a lot of eggs. 

The workers are never too busy 
to take good care of her. A few of 
them always go around with her in 
the hive to feed her and keep her 
Clean. y ^^j^et. \ _^^^ 

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'"4- ,*^^^i*tr^ ^ drone, on the right, receiving food from a 

#* '«>-- ^ar ^ worker bee 


In the midst of all the busyness of a beehive, the drones 
crawl around clumsily and don't do any work at all. They are 
the male bees. They can't gather nectar because their tongues 
aren't shaped right. They have no pollen baskets for gathering 
pollen. They are not fitted to do any of the work inside the 
hive. They do not even have stings, so they cannot work as 
guards. The drones are noisy, awkward fellows, always buzz- 
ing and tumbling about and getting in the way. Sometimes 
the worker bees even push them out of the hive to get rid 
of them. 

The drones have only one purpose in the bee colony. 
When the old queen dies or stops laying enough eggs, a new 
queen takes her place. Before she starts her egg-laying, the 
new queen mates with one of the drones, who becomes the 
father of the new bees. So, although the drones take no part 
in the work of the hive, they really are necessary to the life 
of the whole colony. 



Early settlers in America used straw beehives. Sometimes they 
built roofs over them, to protect them from sun and rain. 


Rough wooden hives, or bee "gums" 
—sometimes made from the trunks of 
trees— are still used in some places in 
the southern United States. 





When a new queen is rea3y to look for a mate she flies 
from the hive and finds a number of drones easily because 
of their loud buzzing. After making herself known to them, 
the queen starts flying up and up into the air. All the drones 
follow her, and the swiftest and strongest one finally catches 
her. They mate and the queen returns to the hive. In a few 
days she will begin to lay eggs. 


Usually a queen mates only once in her lifetime, but she 
can often go on laying eggs for two or three years afterward. 
All during the time that nectar is flowing she lays eggs, with 
only brief rests. She stops if there is a spell of bad weather that 
keeps the workers from gathering nectar, but she starts again 
when they do. Then, when frost kills the flowers in the fall, 
she stops for the winter. In spring, she begins again when field 
bees start bringing in nectar. 



As long as the queen lays eggs, the workers pay great 
attention to her. They stand around in a circle, ready to feed 
her. As she moves about in the hive she waves the feelers on 
her head. She can tell which workers have honey to give her 
by crossing her feelers with theirs. The workers open their 
mouths, and the queen puts in her tongue to suck up the honey. 
They clean her and caress her and comb her hair with the 
combs on their legs. They even bathe her with their tongues. 
All this attention seems to help her lay many eggs. 



Surrounded by workers, the 
queen walks around over the comb, 
usually in the lowest story of the hive, 
which is called the "brood chamber," 
but sometimes in the second-story 
food chamber, too. Often a beekeep- 
er places a sort of grating between the 
food chamber and the supers above 
it. The openings in the grating are 


These cells are the exact size of cells 
used for storing honey and bee bread. 
The queen also uses them for laying her 
eggs. The cells for drone eggs are 
slightly larger. 

big enough for the workers to go 
through, but not for the queen, who 
is larger than they. So she can lay her 
eggs only in the bottom two sections 
of the hive. 

Remember that bees make the 
six-sided wax cells of the honeycomb 
exactly alike in two sizes. Most of the 
comb is made up of the smaller-sized 
cells. Bees use these for storing honey 


and bee bread. The queen also uses 
the cells— both the smaller and larger 
ones. She lays her eggs in them. 

First she inspects an empty cell. 
If it hasn't been cleaned and polished 
by the workers, she passes it by. If it 
is clean, she deposits a tiny egg in it. 
The egg is long and thin, and always 
stands on end in the cell. 


Three days after the queen has laid her eggs, 
tiny grubs will hatch. 

The most remarkable thing about 
the honeybees' egg-laying is this: A 
good healthy queen seems to lay one 
kind of egg in the larger cells and 
another in the smaller cells. The eggs 
all look exactly alike, but they de- 
velop into two different kinds of bee. 
The ones in the smaller cells turn out 
to be workers. The ones in the larger 
cells turn out to be drones. 

These are drone cells. They are larger 
than worker cells. 


But if the queen lays only worker eggs and drone eggs, 
where do new queens come from? 

They come from ordinary worker eggs— but they have 
been treated in a very special way. 

From time to time, worker bees build over some of the 
small worker cells, making them larger until they are about 
the size and shape of small peanuts. They are now the largest 
cells in the hive. As the worker eggs in them hatch, nurses feed 
them differently from the just-hatched eggs in the small cells. 
From these ordinary worker eggs in the big peanut-shaped 
cells new queens will come. 

Queen bees are made by worker bees! 

This new queen has just gnawed her way 
out of a royal cell. She will hunt down and 
kill the queens still sealed in royal cells. 


Every bee— worker, drone, or queen— goes through four 
stages while it is growing up. After the queen lays an egg in 
the bottom of the cell, the nurse bees keep a close watch over 
it. Just before it hatches, in three days, a nurse bee puts into 
the cell a small amount of food called "royal jelly." No one is 
quite sure yet what royal jelly is, but most scientists believe 
that it comes from glands in the nurse bees' heads. The glands 
make the royal jelly out of foods and chemicals in the bees' 

When the egg has hatdied, the second stage in a bee's 
life begins. The bee is now like a little woim. It is called a 

The nurse bees keep on feeding the larvas. They run 
around from cell to cell, making sure that each tiny worm is 
all right and that it has enough to eat. Often they don't leave 
it un watched for more than two minutes. 

For three days, all the larvas live on royal jelly. Then the 
nurse bees begin to feed most of them the nectar and pollen 
that has been made into bee bread and stored in cells nearby. 

But the larvas in the built-up queen cells go right on 
being fed royal jelly, instead of bee bread. And this difference 
in feeding makes them into queens. 


S^ *^^ i 


At first the larva is shaped like 
the letter C, but as it grows it straight- 
ens out, with its head toward the 
opening of the cell. As it gets bigger 
it sheds its skin several times. Then its 
cell is capped with wax by the work- 
ers, and the larva within makes itself 
a cocoon. The covering on the young 
bees' cells is slightly arched and is 
darker than the covering on honey 
cells. Drone cells are arched more 
than worker cells because drones are 
bigger. The queen cells are pulled out 
into their peculiar peanut shape. 


When the cocoons are safely 
sealed into cells, the young bees start 
their third stage: the "pupa" stage. 
Inside the cocoon a great change 
takes place. The wings and eyes and 
strong mouth parts begin to form and 
grow. The simple wormlike creature 
is becoming a complicated bee. 


Twenty-one days go by from the time a worker egg 
is loid until a worker bee comes out of its cell. 

At last the bee is fully formed and ready to come from 
the cell. Now it gnaws its way through the wax and climbs 
out. It takes a queen sixteen days to grow, from the time she 
is laid as an egg until she comes out as a real bee. Workers 
take twenty-one days, and drones take twenty-five. 


Almost as soon as the young bee leaves the cell it com- 
mences to comb itself with the combs on its legs. Then it finds 
a food cell filled with honey and has a good meal. At first the 
young worker bees are fuzzy and feeble, but before long they 
are strong enough to clean and polish the cells in which the 
queen will lay eggs. Young worker bees also act as nurse bees; 
they make wax for new cells; and they help ripen the honey 
and pack it into the honeycomb. They are usually a week or 
ten days old before they take their first flight outdoors. 

■<>f IL'*-^- 

3me of these young worker bees 
3ve just crawled from their cells, 
thers are still coming out. 


What happens with new queens is quite different. In the 
first place, they may not even get out of their cells at all, if 
the old queen is alive, because one queen almost never allows 
another in the hive. If she finds a big peanut-shaped cell, she 
opens it and kills the baby queen inside. 

0^ m^' 

Queen cells, destroyed by a new 
young queen 


w 0^ 

Sometimes the old queen doesn't see the queen cell be- 
fore the bee is hatched. When that happens she tries to sting 
to death the new queen who has come out of a cell. Once in 
a while a young queen and an old queen have a real battle 
while worker bees stand around and watch without interfer- 
ing. Whichever queen wins the fight by killing the other 
becomes the queen of the hive. 






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If a queen fails to he a good egg-layer, the workers get 
rid of her. They push her out of the hive, where she will starve 
because she can't gather nectar by herself. Or they may just 
seal her up in wax. 


But when a bee colony has no queen it dies out very soon. 
In order to have new queens in case of some epiergency, the 
workers build a few queen cells from time to time, even if the 
old queen seems to be doing a perfectly good job. 



Sometimes bees get too crowded in a hive. Then a large 
number of them fill themselves up with honey and leave, all 
at once. This is called "swarming." Once in a while a colony 
swarms for no reason that the beekeeper can figure out. They 
just pick up and go. 

Often, before they swarm, workers make extra queen 
cells, so that there will be a good chance of having a queen 
who will leave with them. An old queen doesn't always leave 
when the other bees go. Many beekeepers clip the wings of 
the queen after she has mated, so she can't fly even if she 
wants to. If no queen goes along when workers leave the hive, 
they return to it. 








As the swarming bees rush from 
the hive, they circle around in the air, 
all together, and they often make as 
much noise as a small airplane. Some- 
times the queen leads the swarm from 
the first. At other times she joins it 
after about half of the swarming bees 
have left the hive. 

Gradually, as the bees circle 
around in the air, they draw closer 
and closer together. Finally they 
settle down on something like a tree 
branch, where they hang all together 
like a big bunch of bananas. 

Bees who act as scouts then 
leave the cluster and go out looking 
for a new home. Sometimes the scout- 
bees even look for a new home be- 
fore the swarming begins. But when- 
ever they look, they have some way 
of getting the other bees to follow 
them to the place they have selected. 
It may be an empty hive or a space 
in a house wall, or a hollow tree. 


If bees in a hive have had a good summer in which to 
gather nectar, they will have enough food to last them all win- 
ter. But sometimes, if the weather is bad, there may be few 
blossoms in summer. Then bees from one hive may start to 
steal honey from another hive that doesn't have enough guards 
at its entrance. 

Beekeepers say that when bees once start to rob they 
never stop. Apparently they find that the easiest way to get 
honey. So if a beekeeper finds a robber hive he has to kill all 
the bees in it. 



It is easy to tell robber bees from bees that really belong 
in a hive. They always fly down to the hive porch with their 
legs spread out, ready to fly away if the guards spot them. If 
they manage to get in and steal honey they take so much they 
can't fly away without climbing up the side of the hive and 
jumping off into the air. They are so heavy they are like air- 
planes that need to get up speed before they can take off. 


Saint Ambrose is the patron saint of beekeep- 
ers. Hives, called skeps, in his image can be 
seen in parts of Holland. 

This hive from Hanover, Ger- 
many, v/as probably designed 
to v/ard off evil spirits. Th{ 
head is made of crockery, 
on a straw skep. The bees 
enter through the mouth. 

This rough covering protects 
the hive from rain and sun. 
Old-fashioned hives such as 
this are being replaced by 
modern ones. 

In Turkey, the beekeeper stacks his box hives. The stonewall protects 
them from the wind, and the reed matting keeps out the cold and rain. 

In some parts of Europe, 
wooden hives are carved 
in the likenesses of saints. 
The figures are from four 
to six feet high. In each 
one, a board in the front 
can be taken out. The 
bees go in and out 
through a small hole. 



Guards at the hives try to sting any kind of robber or 
invader— even people. Bees are more likely to sting when the 
weather is cold than when it is hot. They are cross and likely 
to sting shortly after a rain or when there has been very little 
nectar to make honey. 

If you look at a worker bee's sting under a microscope, 
you will see two barbed spears connected with a red, egg- 
shaped bag. This bag holds the poison which makes a sting 

Close-up view 
of barbed spear 

Barbed spear 

swell up. Each of the spears has several barbs like little fish- 
hooks. The bee sticks one spear into an enemy until the barbs 
catch. Then she pushes the other spear until it also catches 
hold. After that she pushes first one spear in farther, then the 
other. As the barbs push in, poison from the little red sac runs 
down between the spears and starts to irritate the flesh. 


'^r^ \ ^f^%^ 


Sometimes the barbs are so hard to pull out of the enemy's 
flesh that the bee has to leave them and the poison bag there 
in order to get away. When she does this, she dies. 

Worker bees can usually get their stings out of other bees. 
They sting into the soft flesh between the joints in the bees' 
hard outer shells. Queens can sting other queens in this way 
and still live. Their stings are smooth, not barbed like the 
workers' stingers. 

Usually worker bees cannot pull their barbs and poison 
bags out of people's skin, so they fly away without them. When 
this happens the bees die. 

However, if you are stung, you aren't much interested in 
what will happen to the bee. You want to get rid of the sting 
as quickly as possible because it is painful. The best way is to 
scrape the sting off with a knife blade. If you pull it out with 
your fingers, the poison bag is squeezed and forces more poi- 
son into the little cut the sting has made. It is the poison that 
causes the swelling and pain. 

There is nothing much to do when a bee has stung you. 
You may try putting hot wet cloths and then cold ones on the 
swollen place. This may help ease the pain somewhat. The 
best thing is to stay out of the bees' way unless you know how 
to handle them. 


^^ Bee, collecting propolis 


As winter approaches, workers in the hive prepare for 
cold weather. All summer long they have gathered food. Now 
they make sure the hive is tight enough to keep out the wind. 
They seal up cracks with the sticky gum called propolis. 

Propolis comes from thick juices on buds and some plants 
and trees. Bees tear the bits of gum loose with their jaws. Then 
they take the sticky stuff out of their mouths with their middle 
pair of legs and put it in the pollen baskets on their hind legs. 
They keep on doing this until they have large drops of glue on 
each pollen basket. 

Back in the hive, a house bee tears the glue off the baskets 
by pulling at it with her jaws. It takes a lot of pulling to get 
the glue off, and both the house bee and the field bee hold pn 
tight to anything rough they can find. Even then, the field 
bee is often pulled around as the glue is being taken off. 

Bees never store propolis. As soon as the house bees get 
it off the field bees, they carry it in their mouths and stick it 
in some place that seems to need sealing up. They often drop 
lumps of it, and they never pick it up. The inside of a hive can 
get very sticky from the glue, and it can be a real nuisance to 
a beekeeper. 


At the first signs of cold weather, the workers also make 
sure there are no useless bees to feed. They push all grown-up 
drones out of the hive. They take drone larvas from the cells 
and leave them outside to die, too. 

Healthy worker bees and the queen will live through the 
winter, if they have enough food. 

Turning the drones out to die 


When the temperature begins to go down, the bees form 
a tight cluster on the honeycomb near the .wax cells where 
honey is stored. When it gets so chilly that you would wear a 
sweater outdoors, the bees turn on their own heating system. 
They make heat by tugging at each other, moving their bodies 
back and forth and fanning their wings. Scientists have found 
that when bees do this the temperature in the center of the 
cluster may rise as high as on a very hot summer day. The bees 
in the center work their way to the outside to cool ofF, and bees 
on the outside work their way in to the center to warm up. 

The bees in the cluster eat out of the honey cells when- 
ever they need to, but they never overeat. They have no spe- 
cial way of taking turns when they eat. 


Bee brush 


Farmer Henry is a beekeeper. 
He takes care of many beehives. This 
is how he does it. When he goes close 
to the hives he wears a bee-veil to pro- 
tect his head and face and neck from 
stings. The veil is attached to his hat 
and hangs down all around. A draw- 
string at the bottom pulls it close 
around his neck. He often wears long 
gloves and puts bicycle clips around 
his trousers. He doesn't want any 
bees to get inside by accident. The 
pressure of the clothes on the bees 
would make them sting. 

When he goes to look inside a 
hive, he takes a machine called a 
smoker with him, and also a soft bee 
brush and a knife made for open- 
ing hives. The smoker is a kind of can 
with a bellows in it. The can is filled 
with leaves and other things which 
burn slowly. Farmer Henry lights the 
stuff in the can and then pumps the 
smoke out with the bellows. 

Hive knife 



Using the smoker 

Before opening a hive, he squirts some smoke through the 
nozzle of the smoker into the entrance to the hive. Then, just 
as he takes the top off, he pumps in more smoke at the top. The 
smoke quiets the bees and makes them less likely to sting. 

When Farmer Henry opens a hive he uses his special hive 
knife. The knife loosens the top of the hive which the bees have 
stuck tight with their glue. He also uses the knife to loosen 
the frames which hold the foundations and the honeycombs 
built in them. 

When he lifts a frame out of the hive, he usually finds a 
lot of bees on it. If he wants to he can use his brush gently to 
wipe them oflF. 

From time to time Farmer Henry opens the hives to see if 
everything is all right. If he hears the bees making a kind of 
whining sound, as though they were crying, he knows the 
queen has died, and he must get another queen for the hive. 
He may add a queen from another hive if he can see that a 
new one is about to hatch out of a big cell. 


Or he may buy a queen from another beekeeper, who 
sends her in a tiny box or cage which has candy in it for the 
queen to eat. The candy is really the door to her cage. When 
Farmer Henry puts the cage into the hive, the bees eat through 
the candy door and let the queen out. 


Mailing box 
and label 

When he opens the hive Farmer Henry looks to make sure 
the bees are storing enough bee bread for the baby bees and 
enough honey for themselves and for him, too. He adds more 
supers to the hive if they are needed. 

Sometimes he finds that a sickness called "foul brood" 
has been killing the larvas. When he discovers this, he has to 
burn up the hive and the bees in it, to keep the sickness from 
spreading into other hives. 


» "Miiti 


When Farmer Henry sees bees swarming he follows them. 
Then he may wait until night, if that seems the best time to 
work with a swarm. If the swarm clusters on a limb, he cuts the 
limb ofiF from the tree and then gently shakes the bees off, right 
in front of an empty hive he has ready. If they cluster on some- 
thing that can't be cut off, he uses a bee brush and sweeps them 
into a big basket, or else he shakes them into it. Bees are usu- 
ally good-natured when they swarm, as if they were at a party 
with a lot of good food inside them. They pay httle or no 
attention to Farmer Henry, even when he walks about in the 


midst of the circling swarm. Some beekeepers have even been 
known to get a swarm to settle on their faces, so that they look 
as if they had a great long beard. 

Farmer Henry can take his basket full of swarming bees 
and pour them out in front of the new home he wants them to 
have. Usually they start walking toward their new hive. If they 
don't, Farmer Henry gently pushes them in that direction. As 
soon as the queen enters the hive, Farmer Henry is quite sure 
that they will stay in their new home. 




Sometimes Farmer Henry adds a swarm to a colony that 
has lost its queen. He places the hive containing the swarm 
with the queen on the top story of the queenless colony's hive, 
and puts only a sheet of newspaper between them. By the time 
the bees have eaten through the newspaper and removed it 
from the hive, the colony bees and the swarm bees are used to 
one another and will not fight. If they were put together at 
once, the colony bees would attack the swarm bees as enemies, 
and hundreds might be killed in the battle that would follow. 

At other times. Farmer Henry adds a swarm to a colony 
that is small. First he finds out which queen is the better, the 
one in the swarm or the one in the colony. He watches the two 
queens and chooses the one which looks healthier and lays 
more eggs. He kills the other, because if he put the two queens 
together they would fight and both might be killed. Then 
Farmer Henry puts the swarm with the colony in just the same 
way that he added a swarm to a queenless colony. 


Bumblebees live in colonies, each 
with a queen, drones and workers. 
Bumblebee drones and workers do 
not live through the winter. Only the 
queen survives, spending the cold 
months in a hollow tree. In the 
spring, she finds a nest in a deserted 
animal's hole, or she makes a hole 
in the ground. She gathers nectar 
and pollen, storing it in a paste-like 
mass. After enough food has been 
collected, she lays eggs on the paste. 
When the larvas hatch, they eat the 
food the queen has stored. She keeps 
on gathering food and laying eggs 
until the first worker bees develop. 
Then they enlarge the burrow, col- 
lect food and build cells. The queen 
becomes only an egg-layer. The nest 
grows to a large community in a hole 
lined with straw or bits of dry plants. 

\ / 



Nest of 
burrowing bee 


Egg^^ / Pollen 

^^ Pollen 


Each female burrowing bee 
builds her own burrow and 
cells, which she stocks with 
nectar and pollen. Two 
broods are hatched each 
year. The bees winter in the 
burrows and come out in 
the spring. 

I Egg 



Nest of 
I carpenter 

Carpenter bees nest in the hollowed stems of 
plants, which they divide into cells with plant 
fiber. An egg is laid in each cell. The bottom 
bee is first to come out, and eats its way to 
the cell above. The bee from each cell 
emerges in turn and joins the others as they 
crawl upward. They all wait for the top bee 
and leave the nest together. 


Leaf-cutting bees burrow in wood, hollow 
stems, or in the ground. With their sharp 
mouth parts they cut the leaves of roses and 
other plants into ovals and circles. The ovals 
are used as lining for the nests, the circles as 
partitions. Cells are built end to end, and 
stored with nectar and pollen. One egg is 
laid in each eel 


When Farmer Henry looks into 
his hives and finds the top stories filled 
with well-cured honey, he gets ready 
to take his share. First he lifts up the 
top stories and puts a special kind of 
board between them and the second- 
story food chamber. In the board is a 
little door called "a bee escape." It is 
built so that bees can get out through 
it, but cannot come back in again. In 
a day, most of the bees are out of the 
upper stories of the hive, and Farmer 
Henry is ready to harvest his season's 

He lifts out the frames which are 
filled with honeycomb. Then he cuts 
the wax tops off the cells with a spe- 
cial knife and puts the comb in a ma- 


Farmer Henry cuts the wax 
with a special knife. 

chine which whirls so fast that the 
honey comes out of the comb. Now 
he is ready to strain the honey and 
put it into jars, which you can buy. 
He is also ready to melt the wax cov- 
ering he has cut off the honeycomb. 

If the comb made from founda- 
tions has not broken, he can put it in 
frames back into the hives for the 
bees to use again. The broken honey- 
comb is melted along with the wax 
coverings. Farmer Henry sells this 
wax for making new foundations and 
for other uses. 

When he takes his honey from 
the hive, Farmer Henry always 
leaves that in the two lowest stories so 
that the bees will have plenty of food. 

Honey extractor 

Bee escape board, 
in place 

Bee escape board 

Bee escape 

Taking honey from 
the extractor 



Fanner Henry knows that bees have their own heating 
system in winter, but he makes it as easy as possible for them 
to stay warm. He knows that guards leave the entrance in cold 
weather and cluster with the others on the honeycomb. This 
means that mice can sneak in to steal honey. So he closes up 
most of the entrance to keep out mice as well as the cold wind. 
Then he wraps the hive in a blanket of tar paper or some other 
material. This will help the bees keep warm even though their 
hive stays outdoors all winter. 


The light-brown honey Farmer Henry collects from his 
bees comes mostly from apple blossoms in his orchard and 
from sweet clover in his neighbors' fields. But there are many 
other kinds of honey, and each one has its own special taste. 


often you will see labels on honey jars telling what kind of 
flowers the honey comes from. It may be alfalfa honey or honey 
from orange blossoms. Or it may be dark-colored, strong-tast- 
ing honey from buckwheat or poplar or heather blossoms. But 
not much dark honey is sold to ilse at home. Dark honey is the 
kind that bakers and candy-makers use to make cake and candy 
chewy and delicious. The honey also helps to keep these good 
things from drying out. 



Farmer Henry wouldn't have so much honey if he didn't 
have an orchard, but he also wouldn't have any apples unless 
he or someone nearby had bees. Apple trees and bees help each 
other, and the same thing is true of bees and orange trees and 
lots of other trees and flowers. This is why: 

The part of a flower which grows into fruit and seeds can't 
develop unless it gets pollen on it. Sometimes the pollen grows 
in another part of the same flower. Sometimes it grows in sep- 
arate flowers. When a bee crawls into a flower, some of the 
powdery pollen brushes off onto the fine fuzz that covers her 
body. She carries this pollen with her wherever she goes. And 
of course some tiny bits of pollen brush off again as she rubs 
against the flowers she visits. Some of it brushes off onto the 
flower part that needs pollen to help it grow into fruit. 

Fruitgrowers who do not raise bees often rent colonies of 
them from beekeepers. Some beekeepers load big trucks with 
their hives and move from place to place, stopping to let the 
bees work in orchards or in fields of clover or other plants that 
have a lot of nectar. In this way they get more honey than 
they would if they stayed in one place. 

So bees help to make many of your foods besides honey. 
And you can see why people sometimes say, "You are as busy 
as a bee." 


Air conditioners, 16, 28 
Anatomy, 11-12, 14-15 
Bee bread, 10, 29-31, 39, 

Bee brush, 56, 57 
Bee escapes, 64, 65 
Beekeepers, 7, 8, 21, 22, 

23, 38, 46, 56-61, 64-66 
Bee line, 26 
Bee-veil, 56 
Brood chamber, 38 
Brushes, 12, 30 
Bumblebee, 62 
Burrowing bee, 62 
Carpenter bee, 63 
Cocoon, 42 
Colonies, 6, 7, 9, 32, 33, 

45, 61, 68 
Combs, 30, 37, 43 
Drones, 9, 14, 33, 36, 39, 

42, 43, 55 
Eggs, 9, 32, 33, 36-41, 45, 


hatching, 41-43 
Eyes, 11, 14 
Female bees, 10-32, 36- 

41. See also Queen bee. 

Worker bees 
Field bees, 24-31, 54 
Flight, 26, 36, 43, 46, 48 
Flowers, 10, 24-25, 29, 66- 

Food chamber, 23, 38, 64 
Food storing, 18, 23, 38- 

Foul brood, 58 


Foundations, 21-22, 57, 

Fruit, 29, 68 

Glands, 12, 18, 26, 27, 41 
Guards, 13, 17, 49, 52, 66 
Heating system, 55 
Hive knive, 56-57 
Hives, 7, 13, 16, 17, 18, 

21, 22, 23, 34-35, 50- 

51, 54, 56-57, 59-61, 


entrance, 13, 16, 28, 66 
Honey, 8, 10, 16, 18, 28- 

29, 31, 37, 43, 64-65, 

66-67, 68 
Honeycomb, 10, 18-22, 

28-29, 31, 38-42, 55, 

57, 64-65, 66 
Honey dances, 24-25 

round dance, 24 

wagtail dance, 24 
Honey sac, 12, 26-27, 28 
House bees, 13, 26-27, 

28, 31, 54 
Housekeepers, 10, 17 
Instinct, 20 
Jaws, 11, 14, 17, 19, 29, 

Larvas, 41-42, 55, 58 
Leaf -cutting bee, 63 
Legs, 12, 15, 19, 30, 31, 

Mating, 33, 36-37 
Nectar, 10, 11, 12, 24-27, 

29, 31, 37, 45, 49 
Nurse bees, 10, 40-41, 43 
Orchards, 68 

Pollen, 10, 29-31, 33, 68 
Pollen baskets, 14-15, 30- 

31, 32, 54 
Propolis, 17, 54 
Pupa, 42 

Queen bee, 9, 14, 32, 33, 
36-41, 42, 43, 44-45, 

46-48, 53, 55, 57-58, 

Robber bees, 13, 49 
Royal jelly, 41 
Scouts, 48 
Seeds, 29, 68 
Sense of direction, 11, 26 
Sense of smell, 11, 13, 25 
Smoker, 56-57 
Solitary bees, 6 
Sting, 6, 12, 13, 15, 33, 

44, 52-53 
Stories, 23, 28, 38, 64 
Supers, 23, 38, 58 
Swarming, 46-47, 59-61 
Tongue, 11, 14, 26-27, 

28, 29, 33, 37 
Wax, 8, 12, 17, 18-19, 21- 

22, 29, 31, 42, 43, 45, 

Wax scales, 15, 19 
Wild bees, 7, 21 
Wings, 12, 15, 16, 28, 55 
Winter, 54-55, 66 
Worker bees, 8, 9, 10, 32, 

33, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 

43, 44, 46, 52-53, 54, 

Young bees, 9, 10, 13, 18, 


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